MGB201 – Contemporary Employment Relations

Related eBooks

Practice Case Study

Ship It is an express transportation company which was founded in the United States in the 1970s, but has operated globally since the early 1980s. Ship It has built its business around providing a reliable air freight service that can ship high value, low weight products (e.g. medicines, computer parts) around the globe quickly and at a reasonable price. Ship It is the premier carrier of high-priority goods in the marketplace and the standard setter for the industry with a global reputation for speed, reliability and quality customer service. Ship It has over 400,000 workers worldwide across its ten brands, over 100 aircraft and delivers more than 3 million express packages to over 100 countries daily.

Clarry Jones worked as a package handler for Ship It Ground Package System, from February 2007 until January 2016. Ship It have a policy that requires immediate reporting of workplace injuries regardless of whether they require first aid or professional medical treatment. In addition, the company’s policy requires employees to attempt to provide advance notice to management before seeking professional medical treatment for a workplace injury, unless the worker is so severely injured that this is not possible. Under Ship It’s policy, if an employee fails to notify management before seeking medical care for a work-related injury the employee can be summarily dismissed. On January 6, 2016, Clarry stubbed his toe on a pile of boxes stacked on the floor waiting to be loaded into a vehicle and fell on his bottom and probably bruised his coccyx. Clarry felt like an idiot for falling over, so he got up and continued to move parcels hoping that no one had seen him fall. At the end of his shift, Clarry reported what had happened to his manager and said that he had a sore lower back. That report prompted a first aid/injury report, and Ship It placed Clarry on light duties with no heavy lifting to accommodate his condition. Clarry didn’t seek or request medical treatment at the time.

Clarry worked light duty between January 7 and 12. When he woke up on the morning of 13 January, his back was really sore and he decided to go to his local doctor on his way in to work. Clarry went to the doctor without informing Ship It’s management ahead of time. The doctor gave Clarry a medical certificate that cleared him to go back to work on January 13 but only on light duty, pending a full functional capacity evaluation. Clarry went straight to work from the doctors, but it wasn’t until the morning of 14 January that he remembered to tell Ted, his manager, and hand over the medical certificate, thereby notifying Ship It that he had already sought and received medical care for the January 6 incident. Citing its policy that required advance notice before seeking medical treatment for a workplace injury, Ted, Clarry’s manager at Ship It, summarily dismissed him.

Has Clarry been fairly dismissed, or not?
—-

You may assume:
• Queensland legislation covers the sites for workplace health and safety and discrimination issues
• The Fair Work Act 2009 covers employment relations issues and conditions (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/fwa2009114/)
• Ship It does not fit the definition of a small business.
Clarry has a base salary of around $45,000 per annum before overtime under the Road Transport and Distribution award, but with weekend work and overtime, averages about $65,000 per annum.


1500 words

Suggested case essay structure

Introduction – at least 3 sentences (50-100 words):
1. A sentence that sets out the problem or issues to establish the context of the essay.
2. A sentence that announces what you will be arguing (each essay question requires you to take a position and argue for something)
3. A sentence that spells out the structure of the essay, e.g the first section examines the relevant law or literature. The second section …

Theory or law (300-400 words)
This is where you establish the literature that you will use to help you to answer the question.

Application of theory or law (900-1000 words)
This is where you apply the theory or the law to the facts of the case. When applying theory or law you should have at least three main points that support your argument. Each can be a paragraph or two. Where there are points that support your argument, there are also likely to be points that do not support your argument. A critically analytical essay will acknowledge the points that do not support your argument and try to find fault with them.

Conclusion – at least 3 sentences (50-100 words)
Should be in past tense and explain what the essay has argued – recap the main points and the argument.


In-text referencing should be (for example): Australian Air Express v Langford (2005). If you are quoting something from a case (such as a decision or judgement) this should be in quotation marks ” ” with the page or paragraph noted.

In the reference list it should be (for example): Australian Air Express v Langford (2005) 127 IR 240.

Many Australian employment relations/ industrial relations texts have a chapter or a section about regulation of employment (including termination). Because legislation changes rapidly please do not use legislation earlier than 2009, and make sure you are dealing with the Fair Work Act 2009.

Solution

Ship It does not fit the definition of a small business.
Clarry has a base salary of around $45,000 per annum before overtime under the Road Transport and Distribution award, but with weekend work and overtime, averages about $65,000 per annum.

Introduction – at least 3 sentences (50-100 words):
1. A sentence that sets out the problem or issues to establish the context of the essay.

The problem that needs to be examined for the case study is predicated upon whether an employee who is working under the Australian labor system, was unfairly dismissed by his employee. The issues associated with this case entail the interpretation of Australia’s labor legislation; which were established under the Fair Work Act of 2009 and provide broad protections for employees. The objective is to determine whether the employee was unfairly dismissed, and this summary will provide an overview of the legislation governing employee dismissal as well as pertinent information about the employee such as how long they worked for the organization and other variables that can enhance the protections for the employee against unfair dismissal.

The facts of the case are that the employee in this case hurt himself on the job, the organization he worked for had an explicit policy that required an employee to immediately inform management of any injury on-the-job while also seeking to inform management before going to a hospital or doctor for the injury unless the injury was a life threatening injury. According to the company’s policies, failure to conduct these actions was grounds for dismissal, which may or may not be in accordance with Australian labor law and the 2009 Fair Work Act. Therefore, the objective of this summary is to use the research conducted on this Act to provide an overview of whether this case was a legal and justifiable dismissal or whether the company unfairly dismissed the employee.

2. A sentence that announces what you will be arguing (each essay question requires you to take a position and argue for something)

This is a clear violation of the employee’s fair right to work under the 2009 Fair Work Act. Not only is the employee protected against a dismissal such as the one that occurred in this scenario by this act, but because the employee was injured while on-the-job, he actually had additional protections in accordance with workers’ compensation legislation. Therefore, I will provide a summary on how to argue this fact using actual factual evidence based upon the Fair Work Act of 2009.

3. A sentence that spells out the structure of the essay, e.g the first section examines the relevant law or literature. The second section …

When structuring an argumentative essay, it’s important to begin with the overview of the legislation that dictates legal and illegal actions as this will give the layperson who is reading the summary information that can allow them to formulate their own opinion. Although argumentative papers represent opinions to a certain extent, when facts are not subjective to manipulation, this bolsters (your) argument and provides the ability for the argument to be infallible. Therefore, the paper’s structure should begin by thoroughly examining the law, which will occur in the “theory of the law” wherein the law will be explicitly explained to elucidate upon the purpose of the law. Next, the reason for (your) argument will be detailed wherein the objective is to persuade those who may not agree with your opinion to agree because of the facts and (your) argument. This requires insight into the opposing side’s argument as well, because there are always two sides to any argument, and it is disingenuous to only provide one side. Finally, a conclusion that touches on all of the previous points in the paper should be constructed.

Theory or law (300-400 words)

The Fair Work Act of 2009 clearly states that employers who seek to dismiss an employee must ensure that any dismissal that occurs doesn’t violate protected classes of employees that have been established by the legislation. The two most pertinent protections afforded to the employee in this case are disability and impairment and absence due to a temporary injury that occurred on-the-job. This was the only reason given to validate the summary dismissal, and it is not legal according to the legislation. Because the Fair Work Act requires employees to have valid and legal reasons to dismiss an employee, the dismissal of this employee for reasons other than employee conduct, genuine redundancy, and other valid reasons renders the dismissal invalid and illegal.

For the employer to have been able to legally dismiss the employee, the reason would have needed to be sound wherein its relation to employment would have needed to represent the primary issue unless the employee was dismissed for serious misconduct such as sexual harassment, violence, or theft. Even under valid circumstances, the employee is still entitled to an adequate opportunity to respond to any threat of dismissal while also being afforded the autonomy to be provided a support person for assistance with the dismissal. In addition, the employee’s longevity with the organization, personal and individual circumstances associated with the dismissal, as well as a thorough investigation into the circumstances that will ensure that the organization meets the high burden of proof that is required under the law.

The company must have also provided prior warnings, but this particular requirement was tacitly met with the employee policy, which dictated that employees who did not report injuries, and employees who did not report that they were going to a doctor for an injury, would be summarily dismissed. The problem with this policy is that it is not legal as the employer cannot dismiss an employee because of a work-related injury, therefore, although the company met their own requirements in regard to policy being given to employees forewarning them of the consequences for actions that would jeopardize their employment, the policy itself was illegal.

Therefore, to recap, the employer did not adhere to any of the major legal requirements for employee dismissal, and this is why the next section of the summary will argue that the employer unfairly dismissed the employee and should be held accountable under Australian law.

Application of theory or law (900-1000 words)

The argument for why this was an unjust dismissal relies upon the facts, which entail the reality that the employee injured himself while at work, sought medical attention, and was covered by the regulations established by the Fair Work Act of 2009. This was indeed a special type of case that required the employer to account for the special circumstances associated with the employee’s “mistake”, which the only mistake made was not reporting the injury immediately after-the-fact and not reporting that he would be seeking medical attention for the injury before doing so. These minor infractions to company policy did not justify the company illegally firing the employee as the employee had special protections emanating from worker’s compensation legislation and from the Fair Work Act of 2009.

Although the company could have reprimanded the employee and written him up for his actions, the ability to fire an employee for these actions is not defensible, isn’t based upon legal merit, and would amount to a violation of Australian law. There were no grounds for dismissal, and the employee was not even provided the right to respond to the possible dismissal as there was no thorough investigation conducted. He was summarily dismissed once he reported his trip to the medical office for his on-the-job injury, and this was not legal. There were policies that outlawed not reporting injuries directly after they occurred on-the-job, and the policy also highlighted the notion that an employee would be summarily terminated for not adhering to this policy, but the policy itself is illegal if it advocates this approach as this is not allowed by law.

The opposing side would argue that the employee failed to meet their obligations under Australian common law wherein they are obligated to adhere to company policies, follow reasonable and lawful directions, and behave in a manner that is ethical and in furtherance of the company’s goals and objectives. If these obligations are breached, common law in Australia does provide the right to dismiss an employee, but in this particular case, the policy established by the company was neither reasonable nor lawful. The company did not have the legal authority to establish a policy that threatened to dismiss employees who were hurt while working at the company and failed to report the injury or report to the company before seeking medical assistance. Therefore, there was no ability to breach this policy that was unlawful.

Conclusion – at least 3 sentences (50-100 words)

(You) need to write the conclusion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *